Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Unlikely Candidates set headlining dates

I interviewed the band last year (see elsewhere on this blog) and have yet to see them perform. Hope to change that when they appear in SoCal. Read on...

Alternative quintet The Unlikely Candidates have announced a headline tour starting in February and running into May. For more information on upcoming tour dates and to purchase tickets, visit HERE.

Their hit song "Novocaine" had a music video released last spring and it has over 13 million views to date. The song has over 29 million streams worldwide. The track is currently #7 on the Alternative radio chart. "Novocaine" also landed a massive sync in the season 4 trailer of HULU's popular TV show Veronica Mars. Watch the music video for "Novocaine" HERE.

The Unlikely Candidates is Kyle Morris (vocals), Brent Carney (lead guitar), Cole Male (guitar), Jared Hornbeek (bass) and Kevin Goddard (drums).


February 22 - Waco, TX - Common Grounds
February 23 - Roswell, NM - Pecos
February 24 - Albuquerque, NM - Launchpad
February 27 - Tucson, AZ - 191 Toole
February 28 - Flagstaff, AZ - Green Room
February 29 - Phoenix, AZ - Pub Rock
March 3 - Honolulu, HI - The Republik
March 5 - San Diego, CA - Music Box
March 7 - Los Angeles, CA - Moroccan Lounge
March 11 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theatre
March 12 - Colorado Springs, CO - Black Sheep
March 13 - Cheyenne, WY - Array
March 14 - Ft. Collins, CO - Hodis
March 16 - Reno, NV - The Saint
March 17 - Berkeley, CA - Cornerstone
March 18 - Sacramento, CA - Holy Diver
March 19 - Eugene, OR - Sessions
March 21 - Sun Valley, ID - Sun Valley Film
March 22 - Park City, UT - Soundwell
March 25 - Minneapolis, MN - Icehouse
March 26 - Des Moines, IA - Woolys
March 27 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown Jr.
March 28 - Kansas City, MO - Riot Room
March 29 - St. Louis, MO - Old Rock House
March 30 - Indianapolis, IN - Hi Fi
March 31 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall
April 1 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen
April 2 - Kalamazoo, MI - Bells Brewery
April 3 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
April 4 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
April 5 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe
April 7 - Toronto, Canada - Horseshoe Tavern
April 8 - Buffalo, NY - Ironworks
April 9 - Syracuse, NY - Westcott Theatre
April 10 -Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
April 15 - Washington D.C. - Union Stage
April 21 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl
April 23 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun
April 24 - Boston, MA - Middle East
May 9 - Dallas, TX - Granada

Mika tour news; live album due this month

Following the success of his critically acclaimed fifth album My Name Is Michael Holbrook, Mika returns for a North American headline tour this spring. It kicks off in April on the first weekend of Coachella in Indio, CA and visits major markets across the country. Full confirmed itinerary below.

A special artist pre-sale goes live Wednesday January 22 at 10am local time at his official site HERE, followed by local, promoter, and venue presales on Thursday January 23 at 10am local time. General tickets officially will be available this Friday January 24 at 10 am local time.

In other news, he unveils the details for his live album entitled, MIKA Live From Brooklyn Steel [Casablanca Records/Republic Records], arriving on January 31. Recorded during a sold out set at Brooklyn Steel, he delivered an impassioned and inimitable show highlighted by career fan favorites and some from My Name Is Michael Holbrook. He just shared a video of “Dear Jealousy” from the show. Watch it HERE.


4/11 Indio, CA Coachella
4/13 ​​San Francisco, CA​​ The Masonic
4/18 Indio, CA​​​ Coachella
4/20 ​​Seattle, WA The ShowBox
4/21​​ Portland, OR​​​ Roseland Theatre
4/24 ​​Denver, CO ​​​ Fillmore Auditorium
4/26​​ Saint Paul, MN ​​​Palace Theatre
4/27 ​​Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
4/30 Miami Beach, FL ​​ Fillmore Miami Beach
5/2​​ Nashville, TN ​​​ Cannery Ballroom
5/3 ​​Atlanta, GA ​​​ Tabernacle
5/5​​ Washington, DC ​​ Lincoln Theatre
5/6​​ Philadelphia, PA​​ Franklin Music Hall
5/7​​ New York City, NY Terminal 5
5/11 Boston, MA ​​​House of Blues
5/13​​ Toronto, ON ​​​Meridian Hall
5/15​​ Montreal, QC ​​​Bell Centre
5/16​​ Quebec, QC ​​​Videotron Centre

Sara and Sean Watkins return with long awaited new album, tour

Watkins Family Hour—the acclaimed musical collective featuring Grammy Award-winning siblings Sara and Sean Watkins—will release their new album, brother sister, April 10 via Family Hour Records/Thirty Tigers (pre-order here).

In advance of the release, their new song, “Just Another Reason,” debuted today. Watch/share the official music video HERE.

Their first release in five years, the album focuses on the musical and lyrical chemistry between Sara and Sean—the creative core at the center of the project. By carving out time to write together with the Family Hour in mind for the first time, they created a record that demonstrates their unique familial creative partnership while still harnessing the energy and honesty of their legendary live performances at Los Angeles’ Largo—the collective’s residency now in its 18th year.

Of the project, Sara shares, “It felt really good to dig into the potential of two people…the primary goal of this record became to see what we could do when it is just the two of us. The arrangements and the writing were all focused on that. Listening now, I’m really proud of what we did. These are songs that would not have come out of either one of us individually and it feels like a band sound, like this is what we do, the two of us.”

Produced by Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Mandy Moore, J.S. Ondara), brother sister features seven original songs co-written by Sara and Sean as well as three new covers: Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton’s “Neighborhood Name,” Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like A Martyr” and Charley Jordan’s “Keep It Clean,” which features special guest vocalists David Garza, Gaby Moreno and John C. Reilly.

In celebration of the release, the duo will embark on an extensive nationwide tour this spring. See below for complete tour details.

The new album follows 2015’s self-titled debut, which mirrored the experience of their residency and featured special guests Fiona Apple, Don Heffington, Greg Leisz, Sebastian Steinberg and Benmont Tench. Consisting of only covers, Watkins Family Hour was released to widespread critical acclaim.

In addition to Watkins Family Hour, Sara and Sean’s acclaimed projects include I’m With Her (Sara), Fiction Family (Sean), Nickel Creek with their friend and longtime collaborator, Chris Thile, as well as their successful individual careers.


1. The Cure
2. Neighborhood Name
3. Just Another Reason
4. Snow Tunnel
5. Lafayette
6. Fake Badge, Real Gun
7. Miles of Desert Sand
8. Bella and Ivan
9. Accidentally Like a Martyr
10. Keep It Clean


February 3-10—Miami, FL—Cayamo Cruise
March 28—Pelham, TN—Bluegrass Underground
April 8—Nashville, TN—Station Inn
April 11—Cincinnati, OH—Memorial Hall
April 16—Los Angeles, CA—Largo
April 18—San Francisco, CA—Great American Music Hall
April 24—Chicago, IL—Old Town School of Folk
April 25—Chicago, IL—Old Town School of Folk
April 26—Peninsula, OH—GAR Hall
April 28—Brooklyn, NY—Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 29—Annapolis, MD—Rams Head Onstage
April 30—Washington, DC—Sixth & I
May 1—Charlottesville, VA—Jefferson Theatre
May 2—Winston-Salem, NC—The Ramkat
May 3—Asheville, NC—Orange Peel
May 6—Houston, TX—Heights Theater
May 8—Austin, TX—04 Center
May 9—Dallas, TX—Kessler Theater
May 15—Denver, CO—First Baptist Church
May 16—Portland, OR—Aladdin Theater
May 17—Seattle, WA—Neptune Theatre

Daryl Hall & John Oates set summer tour dates with Squeeze, KT Tunstall

photo: Mick Rock/Shore Fire Media
After selling out their upcoming February 28 performance at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Daryl Hall & John Oates have announced a 32-date North American summer tour with Squeeze and KT Tunstall.

It will kick off this May at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Full touring route below. Pre-sale for VIP and general tickets have started and will extend through Thursday, January 23. General on-sale starts Friday, January 24 at 10am local time at

Citi cardmembers now have access to purchase pre-sale tickets until Thursday, January 23. For complete details, visit www.citientertainment.comRead more on the tour here on Rolling Stone:

“Can’t wait to get out there and have some fun playing with my friends to all of my friends,” says Hall.

"I’m really looking forward to a big time 2020 tour!” say Oates. “Having KT Tunstall and Squeeze on the bill with us is just gonna make for an amazing night of music. Can’t wait to see you all on the road."

“I have long been a Hall and Oates fan and this tour is a real treat, a chance to hear all of those great songs each night,” says Squeeze’s Chris Difford. “This is a tour I'm really looking forward to.”

“I am so excited and jumping for joy with the prospect of this tour with Daryl Hall and John Oates,” says fellow Squeeze member Glenn Tilbrook. “They are the bees knees! I had the pleasure of seeing an awesome show of theirs in Kentucky last year, and feel that we are a match made in heaven, to be consummated at every show!”

"How did I get so lucky!” says KT Tunstall. “I’m going on a grand adventure across the United States this summer with my legendary friends Hall & Oates, along with incredible Squeeze. Just to see this show is a thrill … being on the tour … talk about making my dreams come true ... (Go on, you know you wanna sing it). Come and join us for a show!”

Daryl Hall & John Oates recently toured with Tears For Fears, Train, Allen Stone and more. Watch Daryl Hall’s and John Oates’ lively performance of “Maneater” from Daryl Hall And John Oates: Live in Dublin:

North American Tour Dates:

February 26 – Giant Center – Hershey, PA *
February 28 – Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY *^
March 21 – Fantasy Springs Resort – Indio, CA
March 27 – Neal S. Blaisdell Center – Honolulu, HI
March 29 – Maui Arts & Cultural Center – Kahului, HI
May 15 – Foxwoods – Mashantucket, CT
May 16 – Foxwoods – Mashantucket, CT
May 23 – the Mann at Fairmount Park – Philadelphia, PA * =
May 29 – Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA *^
May 31 – North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre – Chula Vista, CA *^
June 3 – Theater of the Clouds at Moda Center – Portland, OR *^
June 5 – White River Amphitheatre – Auburn, WA *^
June 7 – Toyota Amphitheatre – Wheatland, CA *^
June 10 – Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mountain View, CA *^
June 12 – Ak-Chin Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ *^
June 14 – Pepsi Center - Denver, CO *^
June 17 – Dickies Arena - Fort Worth, TX *^
June 19 – Germania Insurance Amphitheater – Austin, TX *^
June 21 – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – Houston, TX *^
July 10 – Budweiser Stage – Toronto, ON *^
July 12 – Riverbend Music Center– Cincinnati, OH *^
July 14 – Blossom Music Center – Cleveland, OH *^
July 16 – Xcel Energy Center– St. Paul, MN *^
July 18 – Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – Chicago, IL *^
July 20 – DTE Energy Music Theatre – Detroit, MI *^
July 22 – Ruoff Music Center – Noblesville, IN *^
July 24 – Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – St. Louis, MO *^
July 26 – American Family Insurance Amphitheater – Milwaukee, WI *^
July 28 – S&T Bank Music Park – Pittsburgh, PA *^
July 30 – St. Joseph's Health Amphitheater at Lakeview – Syracuse, NY *^
August 13 – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA *^
August 15 – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL *^
August 18 – PNC Music Pavilion – Charlotte, NC *^
August 20 – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater – Virginia Beach, VA *^
August 22 – Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD *^
August 25 – Northwell Health at Jones Beach – Wantagh, NY*^
August 27 – PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ*^
August 29 – Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA *^
August 31 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY *^
September 2 – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Gilford, NH *^
* w/ Squeeze
^ w/ KT Tunstall
= Daryl Hall & John Oates present HoagieNation

Monday, January 20, 2020

The NAMM Show '20: TEC Awards winners

Winners in 23 technical and eight creative excellence categories were announced at the 35th Annual NAMM TEC AWARDS, Saturday, January 18, from the global NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. Presented by The NAMM Foundation and held annually, the event recognizes the exemplary achievements and innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games and multi-media. Comedian, actor and musician Fred Armisen took to the podium to host.

For the first time, three companies won two awards each in Outstanding Technical Achievement. They were Genelec (for their Aural ID and S360 A SAM products), Universal Audio (for Apollo x16 and their Capital Chambers PlugIn), and API (2448 Console and the 550A 50th Anniversary Edition 3 band EQ product).

In Technical Achievement, winners picked up honors in Wireless Technology (Shure), Microphones-Recording (Townsend Labs), DJ Production (KORG), and several additional categories in Headphone/Earpiece Technology, Music Instrument Amplification & Effects, Production Essentials and beyond, that celebrated companies producing impactful products that have landed at the top of the field among their peers.

The Outstanding Creative Achievement category winners in one case, reflected a year (2019) filled with a slew of superhero films, and featured Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment, taking home the top prize for Interactive Entertainment/Sound Production. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” from Darkroom/Interscope Records was the top slot in Record Production/Single or Track. . “Bohemian Rhapsody” (20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films) won in Film Sound Production and The Grammy Awards continued to sweep its multiple year-to-year NAMM TEC Award wins, with another trophy for its 61st Annual Grammy® Awards (CBS).

Innovative producer, songwriter and artist Joni Mitchell was given one of the night’s most anticipated honors from The Les Paul Foundation: The Les Paul Innovation Award. The Foundation’s Executive Director Michael Braunstein introduced the award and called Mitchell “a true renaissance woman,” while pianist/composer Herbie Hancock presented the award to Mitchell and noted “it’s hard to imagine a world without this courageous woman’s brave songs and records.”

Mitchell remarked that she was “truly honored,” as several artists took the stage to give the folk songwriting heroine a musical celebration worthy of her long and revered career. The repertoire included Suzanne Santo for “The River;” Kevin Ross for “A Case of You;” Weyes Blood for “Woodstock;” and Venice performing “Free Man in Paris.” The Les Paul Innovation Award has been presented annually to remarkably-distinguished individuals from the music industry, such as Jackson Browne, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and 2019’s recipient, Peter Frampton.

Earlier in the evening, recording engineer Dave Pensado and record industry veteran Herb Trawick, the creative duo behind the weekly web series Pensado’s Place, were named recipients of the 2020 TEC Hall of Fame award.

Both were honored for successful and impactful careers in the music industry, as well as long-standing efforts to share their knowledge through their global online show. The duo has also engaged in tireless mentoring opportunities and teaching tomorrow’s audiologists, producers and musicians.

The announcement was made from the stage by Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director for the Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing®. “I’ve always felt like the next best thing to music is to talk about it,” said Pensado. Trawick noted, “I thank the sponsors, guests, legends, artists, streamers, tech companies. We’ve had a very lucky career and worked very hard at it.” Trawick also thanked their peers in the audience “because of all of your gifts, tools, talents, abilities.” Pensado’s Place reaches an audience of over six million per year.

The TEC Awards ceremony kicked off with a Don Wilson Tribute performance and medley of Ventures tunes that warmed up the crowd before guitarist “Skunk” Baxter presented Wilson with a Music for Life Award, saying “You gave us a great gift that keeps on giving!” Billy Bob Thornton added a special video greeting calling his in-studio time with Wilson one of the “greatest honors of my life.”

Here are the 2020 TEC Award recipients:


Amplification Hardware/Studio & Sound Reinforcement
Auratone – A2-30

Audio Apps & Hardware/Peripherals for Smartphones & Tablets
Genelec – Aural ID

Audio Education Technology
iZotope – Pro Audio Essentials

Computer Audio Hardware
Universal Audio – Apollo x16

DJ Production Technology (Hardware/Software)
KORG – minilogue xd

Headphone/Earpiece Technology
Neumann – NDH 20

Large Format Console Technology
API – 2448 Console

Microphone Preamplifiers
Rupert Neve Designs – 5211 Dual Mic Pre

Microphones – Recording
Townsend Labs – Sphere L22 v1.3

Microphones – Sound Reinforcement
Aston Microphones – Stealth

Musical Instrument Amplification & Effects
Line 6 – HX Stomp

Musical Instrument Hardware
Moog Music – Moog One

Musical Instrument Software
Spectrasonics - Omnisphere 2.5

Production Essentials
Cable Wrangler

Signal Processing Hardware
Solid State Logic - Fusion

Signal Processing Hardware (500 Series Modules)
API – 550A 50thAnniversary Edition

Signal Processing Software (Dynamics/EQ /Utilities)
FabFilter – Pro-Q 3

Signal Processing Software (Effects)
Universal Audio – Capitol Chambers

Small Format Console Technology
Allen & Heath – SQ Digital Mixer Series V1.3

Sound Reinforcement Loudspeakers
JBL Professional – VTX A8 Line Array

Studio Monitors
Genelec – S360A SAM

Wireless Technology
Shure – Axient Digital ADX Transmitter

Workstation Technology/Recording Devices
Avid - Pro Tools 2019


Film Sound Production
Bohemian Rhapsody (20thCentury Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films)

Interactive Entertainment Sound Production
Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games | Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Record Production/Album
A Star is Born (Soundtrack), Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper (Interscope Records)

Record Production/Single or Track
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish (Darkroom / Interscope Records)

Remote Production/Recording or Broadcasting
61st Annual Grammy Awards (CBS)

Studio Design Project
Old Mill Road Recording (Francis Manzella Design Ltd.)

Television Sound Production
Game of Thrones (HBO /Warner Bros. Television)

Tour Event Sound Production
Freshen Up, Paul McCartney

The NAMM Show report: Jan. 16-17, 2020

photo: George A. Paul

By George A. Paul
Freelance Journalist

Another NAMM Show concluded on Sunday as 115,000 music industry professionals and invited guests converged at the Anaheim Convention Center and adjacent hotels to take in new product innovations, instruments, education sessions, live performances, artist signings, award shows and more.

Held annually over four days, the Southern California convention presents thousands of exhibitors from around the world. 

Yamaha Corporation of America is among the biggest music manufacturers to display their wares at NAMM. The year, the company - whose name adorns one in every four instruments sold worldwide - exhibited more than 75 new products at its cavernous Anaheim Marriott/Marquis Ballroom space.

A family-friendly portable keyboard with high quality voices and special learning tools and an acoustic guitar series (the company sells more than anyone else) featuring the Atmosfeel pickup and preamp system were a couple examples.

Yamaha also presents the large evening Concerts on the Grand at the large outdoor plaza. This year's shows included Los Angeles metal band Animals as Leaders (a last-minute replacement for Sarah McLachlan), Tower of Power and the All Stars show.

photo: Bob Steshetz
Friday's All Stars concert saw Sinbad return as host and primarily focused on R&B and urban music. The exception was Kenny Loggins, who brought some pop to the proceedings with his hits “This is It” and the rarely performed “Heart to Heart” (both were co-penned by Michael McDonald).

The large house band was led by veteran bassist Nathan East and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. And of course, Loggins did “Footloose.” The closing act comprised the three core members of Earth, Wind & Fire - singers Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson, plus bassist Verdine White. Early member Larry Dunn even joined them on keyboards for a bit.

Their totally jubilant six-song set made the audience go crazy. It included “Sing a Song,” “After the Love is Gone,” “Let’s Groove,” “September” and Bailey's solo hit with Phil Collins, “Easy Lover” (a female backing vocalist joined Bailey). The latter was a perfect choice, considering East co-wrote and played bass on the top 5 hit in 1985.

All the other artists on the bill (Verbal Ase, Mr. Talkbox, Avery Sunshine, Shelea)
returned to the stage to cap everything off with a cover of James Brown’s “Living in America.”

photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for NAMM
My NAMM Show 2020 experience began early Thursday morning with the Breakfast of Champions session, where NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond presented singer/guitarist Jason Mraz with the Music for Life Award for his charitable efforts. 

Mraz said he was very fortunate to have access to music education while growing up in Virginia. "Music shaped my life and gave me so many opportunities." Mraz was in chorus and had teachers who saw promise in his talent at an early age.

Lamond asked about the Jason Mraz Foundation and the artist said he works with schools in his native Richmond, Va. and current home in San Diego to help inspire and support music programs. 

"We try to breathe life into the arts," Mraz said. "We don't have a government that funds a lot of these programs, so it depends on donors...inspiring (children and young adults) to get involved in music is "a fun way to spend your time" and "a profound and beautiful use of our time." 

Next, I was onto “Stories Behind the Sessions: Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.” at the Harman International booth.

photo: George A. Paul
Christian Hand, a DJ from KLOS/95.5 FM Los Angeles known for his “The Session” segments and Toby Scott, who engineered the classic album (along with many others in The Boss catalog) had a frequently fascinating 50-minute demonstration and discussion about the songs and recording process.

Scott provided some background about how several BITUSA tracks originated from solo acoustic predecessor "Nebraska." Since the latter couldn’t be mastered, it was released in demo form.

Then Scott talked about the protracted BITUSA album sessions. When Hand played isolated instrument and vocal stems from the title track, it was surely a revelation for many Bruce tramps in attendance. Scott said the original jam at the end of the song was cut down from eight minutes and noted how the melody structure was somewhat similar to “Hungry Heart.”

“You don’t need a lot of changes for a hit song,” he noted.

Having gone through multiple permutations, “once the ‘BITUSA’ song started in this (final) variation, it set the stage for the whole album.” Scott told how manager Jon Landau said they needed a single, so “Dancing in the Dark” was penned overnight and recorded at New York City’s Hit Factory while the other songs were still being finished at the nearby Power Station.

Hand cued up Springsteen’s amazing isolated Telecaster guitar and vocal tracks on the computer and projected it on a screen. “We would call Bruce’s guitar the ‘primal strum,” said Scott. “There is no restraint in Bruce’s vocal. I’d say, eight out of 10 times, we’d use a live first take vocal,” recalled Scott.

The engineer told a humorous story about how the studio owner often visited to check on how things were going, thus slowing down the process even more - until Landau asked Scott to politely ask the owner to stop showing up. “There were no other visitors during the sessions.”

Later, when Hand asked what advice Scott would give to young engineers, he replied, "when you’re working, do the best job you can.” As an example, Scott proudly said Springsteen’s 1995 acoustic album "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (that he also engineered) contained “all rough mixes.”

photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for NAMM
Over at the Apogee booth, Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Theron "Neff-U" Feemster (Michael Jackson, Train, Sia) did a brief interview with Randy Jackson. The musician/producer/manager and former "American Idol" judge said these days he "loves what's happening in Nashville so much because they focus on the song."

Although the advent of ProTools and technological advances have "made everything an option, what happened when you didn't have options and just had to be good - like with Motown and country music?" asked Jackson. 

"When I was coming up in Louisiana, it was all about being the best," he continued. "Early in my career, I met with [legendary Motown songwriting team] Holland-Dozier-Holland and they told me everything I did had to be great."  

John Jorgenson’s electric guitar versatility was on full display during a riveting 40-minute set Thursday afternoon at the Pioneer Pro Audio Arena Plaza Stage outdoors near the Anaheim Convention Center’s newish North extension.

photo: George A. Paul
Ace musicians like bassist/fellow Redlands, Calif. native Davey Faragher and drummer Charlie Morgan (the guitarist used to play with him in the Elton John band) backed up a mighty impressive Jorgenson. 

They performed the Hellecasters' dynamic and upbeat instrumental “Back on Terra Firma,” a beautiful take on Rodney Crowell's poignant "Wandering Boy" (Jorgenson played on the 2001 album "The Houston Kid"), a feverish rocking take on Arthur Lee & Love’s “A House is Not a Motel,” B.B. King’s “How Blue Can You Get” (Jorgenson gave a shout out to Gary the Fuzzman, who was watching nearby) and George Harrison’s hypnotic “Love You To,” complete with Indian music effects. Jorgenson really pulled out all the stops with his expressive playing at the end.

Dashing back inside the convention center to Vox Amplification's booth, I saw Lindsay Ell do a sumptuous half hour performance inside a nice private music room. The Canadian country/blues singer is quite a guitarist, as I first witnessed a few years ago on the Mane Stage at Stagecoach fest. Ell's most memorable moments included a fun and infectious "Good," her top 20 country hit from 2017 "Criminal," the groove-laden "Castle" and latest Dan Huff-produced single "I Don't Love You," complete with wailing vocal. 

photo courtesy of Gibson Guitars
Gibson Guitars hosted an amazing "Icons & Friends" Party at the Grove of Anaheim on Thursday night.

Hosted by John Stamos, the event boasted performances by members of ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Eagles, Guns 'N' Roses, Santana, Halestorm and others.

There were plenty of standout moments: Slash and Don Felder's guitar duel during "Hotel California" and the latter's solo take on Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy," Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen doing their "In Color" tune "Big Eyes," Elliot Easton of The Cars providing deft guitar work alongside singer Andy Vargas for "La Bamba" and "Oye Como Va" and Billy Gibbons doing "Jesus Just Left Chicago" (and later "Tush," with Zander).

Slash - who has a new signature line of guitars through Gibson; see elsewhere on this blog for details - weaved in and out of several songs, all anchored by a house band consisting of drummer Kenny Aronoff, bassist Darryl Jones, guitarist Jimmy Vivino and keyboardist Jeff Young.

My second NAMM Show day began with Christian Burns (pictured left) doing a short, but sweet three-song acoustic set at the Blue/Ultimate Ears booth. He started with an emotionally resonant "In the Dark" (his 2007 Tiesto collaboration) and then did a solid version of "Back Here," his 2000 adult contemporary chart topper with BBMak, before concluding with a dramatic "Temptation," off his recent All Hail the Silence project with BT.

Upstairs in the Fender Guitars room, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World talked briefly about his signature white JA-90 Telecaster Thinline model and played "Big Casino" and "Love Never" by the band.

Friday afternoon on the Pioneer stage, Sweet Lizzy Project delivered a terrific performance. The new Cuban rock band’s impressive debut album “Technicolor” is due out Feb. 21 via Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers and was produced by The Mavericks’ Raul Malo.

photo: Robert Kinsler
The quintet made quite an impact during a catchy “Turn Up the Radio,” where Lisset Diaz’s wailing vocals often recalled Alanis Morissette, while Miguel Comas pulled off enticing reverb-laden guitar lines.

Other highlights included the attitude-laden delivery and raw lyrics of the new wave-tinged “Ain’t Nobody to Call,” the powerful “These Words” (which received a rousing response) and “Travel to the Moon” (where Diaz's lilting vocals brought to mind late Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan). Toward the end of the set, the band did a moody, extended cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2,” complete with searing solo by Comas. Definitely one to watch.

Back inside the convention center, Graham Coxon demonstrated Swedish manufacturer Softube’s Console 1, a recording hardware and software hybrid, and accompanying Marshall amp plug-in. The Blur guitarist/singer used it to help compose the soundtrack for British drama series “End of the F-ing World,” which was shown on Netflix.

During the audience Q&A section, Coxon chatted for much longer than scheduled. He didn’t rule out another Blur album, saying it depended on timing and whenever bandmate Damon Albarn was rotating projects like Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, etc.

“I love doing film and TV score work,” Coxon admitted. It keeps me learning and out of trouble...I’d score the news if I could.” As soon as Coxon read the “End” script, he started to write music, fashioning one song like 1990s-era Beck.

photo: George A. Paul
Various solo projects could come out in the future (there is a “lost” album done around the time of 2012’s "A+E") because he’s done a lot of work in the last few years. There’s also another Netflix-related score set to debut next month with music referencing 1950s and ‘60s styles as well as blueman Mississippi John Hurt. Additionally, Coxon confirmed that he recently contributed to Duran Duran's next album and really enjoyed it. 

When asked about influences, Coxon admitted to listening to a lot of Steely Dan last year, while more recently, he’s rediscovered classic Blondie albums like "Parallel Lines" and "Plastic Letters."

“I was blown away by how much I hear myself in Chris Stein’s (playing). Blondie is overlooked and an incredible band. (The song) ‘11:59’ is genius.” Coxon also cited George Harrison’s guitar work as an inspiration.

“It happens over time and without you knowing. It has to do with how you identify as a guitar player. He also didn’t realize how much he’s been influenced by prog rock acts like Peter Hammill and Van der Graaf Generator.

Getty Images for NAMM and Gibson live photos used with express permission for media from NAMM and Gibson. Find more NAMM Show coverage here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The band Real Estate focuses on 'The Main Thing' with new release, tour

Real Estate's new album The Main Thing is out Feb. 28 on Domino. For the first time ever, the band has brought in outside instrumentalists and special guests like Sylvan Esso, whose vocalist Amelia Meath features on first single "Paper Cup." The Nick Roney-directed music video chronicles the final performance in the life of a giant animatronic squirrel named Chipper.

Watch and share "Paper Cup" (feat. Sylvan Esso) HERE

On "Paper Cup" and the making of The Main Thing, Martin Courtney says, "Paper Cup is a song about getting older and realizing that this thing that I fell into doing over ten years ago - being a musician, writing songs, being a guy in a band - this may end up being my life's work. Watching the people around me change and evolve, take on new challenges, and feeling sort of stuck in a rut, in a way. Feeling uncertain of the validity of being an artist in an age of climate change and general political and social unrest around the world.

"It's a song about questioning your chosen path in life and searching for meaning in what you do.

"Those questions don't really get resolved in this song, but ironically, the process of making this record - really diving deep and trying to make it the best thing we've ever made - reaffirmed in me, and I think in all of us in this band, why we are doing this."

Alongside members Alex Bleeker (bass), Matthew Kallman (keyboards), Julian Lynch (guitar, vocals) and Jackson Pollis, primary songwriter Martin Courtney explains, "Even before we decided where to record or who to record it with, I knew it needed to sound that good," but as Bleeker adds, "We discovered through the care and attention that we brought to this record that making music to resonate with other people is our catharsis. The 'main thing' is following your path of inspiration and hoping to inspire that in people around you."

Real Estate will tour this spring, with tickets on-sale here. The Main Thing will be available on CD, LP and digitally. A limited edition, gold-colored 2xLP – including a tip-on gatefold jacket with Bjorn Copeland's collage piece mounted on the front cover – is available to pre-order from Domino Mart here.

Track List:

Paper Cup (feat. Sylvan Esso)
Falling Down
Also A But
The Main Thing
Shallow Sun
Silent World

Tour Dates:

4/9 - El Club - Detroit, MI*
4/10 - Thalia Hall - Chicago, IL*
4/11 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, MN*
4/13 - Slowdown - Omaha, NE*
4/14 - The Truman - Kansas City, MO*
4/15 - The Ready Room - St. Louis, MO*
4/16 - The Vogue - Indianapolis, IN*
4/17 - Brooklyn Bowl Nashville - Nashville, TN*
4/18 - Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, GA*
4/20 - Cat's Cradle - Chapel Hill, NC*
4/21 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC*
4/22 - Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA*
4/23 - Royale - Boston, MA*
5/7 - Fox Theater - Oakland, CA†
5/8 - The Fonda Theater - Los Angeles, CA†
5/9 - Belly Up Tavern - San Diego, CA†
5/10 - The Crescent Ballroom - Phoenix, AZ†
5/12 - The Granada Theater - Dallas, TX†
5/13 - Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater - Austin, TX†
5/14 - White Oak Music Hall - Houston, TX†
5/18 - Gothic Theatre - Denver, CO#
5/19 - Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, UT#
5/21 - Neptune Theatre - Seattle, WA#
5/22 - Revolution Hall - Portland, OR#

*with Palm
†with Meg Baird
#with Itasca